More than 50,000 Cubans Provide Health-care Abroad

Havana (The Havana Reporter) – More than 50, 000 Cuban health professionals are currently providing services in different parts of the world, the Ministry of Public Health (MINSAP) has reported.

In an interview published in the Granma daily, the Director of MINSAP ́S Commercial Department, Yilian Jiménez, said that one of the many reasons for such solidarity is professional development.

She added that Cuban doctors enjoy the experience of professional interaction with colleagues, of studying other models of health-service provision and of overcoming clinical conditions which in turn assure that they are better prepared to confront the challenges of their careers.

Since the first international Cuban medical mission to Algeria in 1963, some 132,000 health professionals have rendered services in foreign countries.

Jiménez commented that despite the significant number of physicians working abroad, Cuba maintains 4.1 physicians per 1,000 inhabitants, an index consistent with that of developed nations.

She explained that because of these international commitments, MINSAP is reforming aspects of the country ́s internal system in order to guarantee universal coverage.

According to MINSAP statistics, at the end of 2013, Cuba counted on a qualified labor force of over 322,600 professionals and technicians, 68 percent of whom are university graduates. Among the most important actions involving Cuban heath professionals over the past 55 years of Revolution are blood donations to the victims of an earthquake in Peru in the 70s and the continued collaboration with African nations despite the strong economic difficulties experienced by Cuba in the 1990s. These were followed by the creation of the Latin American School of Medicine and programs such as Operation Miracle, which has given the gift of recovered sight to more than two million people, she added.

These results, she insisted, reflect the formation of a social system in which patients are not treated as merchandise or simply as clients.